Dendias to Iraqi counterpart: We condemn Turkey's so-called peacekeeping operation in Iraq


Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias pointed out that "Greece fully supports the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq and condemns all illegal incursions into Iraqi territory, dubbed by Turkey as 'peacekeeping operations'."

"In the context of good neighborly relations, we argue that countries should avoid any blackmail," Dendias said in a joint statement with Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein, who is currently in Athens.

Dendias stressed that "Greece aims to promote peace and prosperity" and in this context organized yesterday's Philia Forum with seven other countries.

He reiterated that the Philia Forum is not an alliance against anyone, but "an effort of multilateral cooperation, open to all countries that respect international law, support the consolidation of stability in the region."

"It is unfortunate that this effort, instead of finding a response, is distorted by some centers, in fact launching accusations and insults against us", he noted.

He added: "We are not going to be dragged into this rhetoric. Our goal is to de-escalate and, when conditions allow, to create a climate of cooperation with everyone."

Dendias pointed out that "Greece fully supports the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq. We condemn all illegal incursions into Iraqi territory, known as 'peacekeeping operations'."

After all, as he stressed, Greece believes "as a matter of principle that bilateral disputes should be resolved peacefully and on the basis of international law.

"The threat of violence, the use of force, is not among what the Hellenic Republic tolerates or supports," the foreign minister said.

Today's visit of the Iraqi Foreign Minister to Athens is in return for Dendias's visit to Baghdad last October, the first Greek Foreign Minister in 20 years.

Unfortunately, as Dendias reminded, at that time for reasons of force majeure, he had not been able to go to Erbil, where Greece maintains a consulate, as originally planned.

The two ministers agreed that Dendias would soon return to Baghdad, as well as Erbil and Basra.

In fact, the goal is to be accompanied by the Deputy Foreign Minister in charge of economic diplomacy, Costas Frangogiannis, and a trade mission.

He also pointed out that bilateral economic relations have significant room for growth.

In addition to crude oil imports, cooperation should be extended to other sectors, such as Renewable Energy, the construction sector and agricultural products, as well as tourism.

"A necessary element for the development of our economic ties is the creation of a positive climate," he added.

As Dendias mentioned, Greece and Iraq have a lot in common.

"They are both the cradle of ancient civilizations. The historical presence of Alexander the Great alone is a unifying force," he noted.

The two countries "are firmly committed to the values ​​advocated by the United Nations, to fully respect international law, including the Law of the Sea. They are committed to defending peace and stability in the region."

The Foreign Minister unequivocally condemned the terrorist acts against the civilian population in Baghdad on January 21 and expressed the full support of Greece to the government, as well as to the people of Iraq.

Finally, he thanked Iraq for its contribution in supporting the Greek positions in various international organizations.

"Greece, in the spirit of reciprocity, will continue to support Iraq, starting with the issues of Iraq in the EU," Dendias said.

The Iraqi Foreign Minister described the relations with Greece as historic and stressed that his country especially appreciates our support in the fight against terrorism.

"The fight against Daesh continues with the support of many countries, including Greece, which has always been present within the framework of the international alliance," he noted.

As Hussein said, Iraq wants to maintain good relations with all countries and these relations to be "based on international law, non-interference in internal affairs and the choice of dialogue as the only means of resolving issues."

"Stability in Iraq means stability in the region," he said, adding "When there was a terrorist attack in Iraq, the whole region was destabilized and international peace was threatened. Iraq's stability benefits the whole region."

The meeting discussed trade issues, mainly in the energy sector, and how Greek companies can invest in Iraq. The Iraqi Foreign Minister even stated that Greek companies could turn their attention to the city of Basra, where there is a port.

"We need Greek companies to invest in Iraq, mainly in the Renewable Energy Sector. Greek companies have a lot of experience and we can benefit from these experiences," he said.

Finally, in the extended discussions, the issue of immigration was raised, while the Minister of Immigration Notis Mitarakis was also present.

Hussein thanked the Greek government for welcoming thousands of Iraqi immigrants to Greece and said that the meeting discussed both the issue of the Iraqi community in Greece and how it can be supported, as well as the issue of voluntary returns.

READ MORE: Ankara frustrated over Philia Forum: “It is not possible for any forum to not include Turkey.”